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13 Jan

4-Year-Old Boy Suspended From School for Months Because His Hair Is ‘Too Long’

“Taylor’s parents say he plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients.” Yeah, sounds like a great reason to suspend a 4-year-old.

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Article

By Tara Lohan, AlterNet

First the facts. This kid is 4-years old. Four! He’s in pre-kindergarten. His name is Taylor Pugh but he prefers the nickname Tater Tot. Do you not love him already?! All he wants to do is go back to the classroom and be with his friends. But he has been suspended since November because his hair is considered too long by his public school (which is Floyd Elementary School in suburban Dallas). His hair, by the way, barely touches his shoulders. From what I can tell, it’s also clean and brushed.

So what’s the problem? Apparently his hair violates school district dress code. Why on earth a 4-year-old has a dress code, I don’t know. I would think if you’re dealing with a bunch of kids that young, you’d pretty much just hope they show up with their shoes still on. But on further review, the school district seems to have lots of ridiculous dress restrictions. And there are some that just drive me nuts. For instance, girls can have piercings, boys cannot. Girls can have long hair, boys cannot.

So what’s this really about? Messed up cultural norms that put boys in one box and girls in the other and don’t allow any kind of freedom of expression. What do the people of Texas think will go wrong if a boy has long hair? Does it have anything to do with *gasp* gender identity? Will it get in the way of that algebra they’re surely teaching 4-year-olds? I’m guessing the only thing that really interferes with education is not letting a kid go to class.

The whole thing is infuriating. I’m glad Tater Tot’s parents haven’t caved to the school board’s pressure. Actually, his dad is a tattoo artist, so maybe he knows a thing or two about wanting to express yourself with your appearance — maybe he also knows a bit about uptight folks judging a book by its cover. Here’s his dad, who is clearly rad, too:

“Nobody wants to meet in the middle. It’s all or nothing,” Pugh said. “He’s my son. I love him. I will back him to the end.”

OK, one more reason to love Tater Tot — according to the AP, “Taylor’s parents say he plans to eventually cut his hair and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for cancer patients.” Yeah, sounds like a great reason to suspend a 4-year-old.
Just for giggles (or screams) here’s a few more of this public school’s ludicrous rules:

  • Top and bottom clothing items cannot be the same color.
  • Acceptable colors for pants, skirts, short and jumpers are khaki, navy blue or black (solid, single colors)
  • Belts must be worn buckled at all times and must be worn inside the belt loops.
  • Bottom of sweatshirt, sweater or sweater vest may not extend more than 4 inches below the belt.
  • Shoes must be solid color brown, black, gray, navy blue or white.
  • Undershirts must be white, black, gray or same color as top shirt.
  • Shoelaces must be white or match the color of the shoe.
  • Hair is to be clean and well groomed.
  • Unusual coloring or excessive hairstyles that may include “tails”, “designs”, “puffs”, etc. are prohibited.
  • Girls must wear sufficient undergarments. (What does that even mean?!)

Not allowed:

  • Zippers, snaps, etc.
  • Leather, suede, vinyl, corduroy, denim and knit materials
  • Suspenders
  • Visible stripes, check or other designs

Honestly — this list is so long it’s almost incomprehensible. Check it out. This kind of thing should not be allowed at a public school. These are kids. They are trying to figure out who they are. They should be allowed to wear, god forbid, stripes or shoelaces that don’t match their shoes. And schools should be spending their time teaching kids and not disciplining them for being who they are. I think the school district has a lot it can learn from a 4-year-old. Stay strong, Tater Tot.

Tara Lohan is a senior editor at AlterNet.


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